Thoughts on Plein Air Painting
Painting “en plein air,” or on location is exhilarating and challenging. Studio work, although intense, seems to have fewer distractions; maybe the dogs bark to go out, the phone rings, the garbage truck lumbers down the street but generally, concentrating on the canvas at hand is easily maintained. Things are simpler to manage – whether to play classical or bluegrass music….. is there anything good to eat from the fridge.
When I think back on plein air painting experiences, what seemed awful then is funny in retrospect.
Here are some undeniable facts:
- French easels fall over in wind gusts
- Wet canvases trap bugs
- Planting delicate easel legs on soft riverbanks can dump the palette box and the easel into the river
- An artist painting on location is a magnet for the curious and the demented
- Cows do not pose – they get up and walk away (after you’ve set up)
- Fishing trawlers leave the docks (after you’ve set up)
- Clouds do not stay put
- Painting along side a highway makes an artist potential road kill
- When painting with a group, some artists rush ahead to “get the best spot”
- Landing a good painting produces feelings of immense satisfaction and completeness